B.C. Government Announces Buy BC E-Commerce Funding Initiative

Authors: Saravan Veylan, Tessa Rowland

Through its Investment Agriculture Foundation of British Columbia (the “IAF”), the Ministry of Agriculture announced the “Buy BC Partnership Program E-commerce Funding Stream” (the “Funding Stream”) as part of the Buy BC Partnership Program.

The province committed a total $300,000 to the Funding Stream to assist agribusinesses bolster their e-commerce infrastructure to enable online sales to the public directly.

Funding Stream Overview

The Funding Stream aims to support B.C.’s agriculture industry by enabling farmers, ranchers, and food and beverage processors to market their products as local in a time when the public increasingly looks to support the local economy with their buying habits. Out of the $300,000 committed to the Funding Stream, eligible applicants will be able to apply on a first come, first serve basis for up to $5,000 starting on May 15, 2020 at 9 a.m. PDT on the IAF website. Applications will be accepted until May 29, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. PDT or until the funding is fully administered. The Funding Stream will be allocated to cover 75% of an applicant’s total e-commerce project costs for qualifying projects implemented from June 8, 2020 until September 30, 2020. Applicants will have to therefore cover the remaining 25% of costs.

While many retailers and restaurants had existing e-commerce components to their operations prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of agribusinesses do not as there was little need to accommodate direct-to-consumer sales. Successful applicants will therefore receive funding aimed at transferring sales online to an e-commerce model to better serve consumers province-wide.

Eligibility Requirements and Application

The Funding Stream is open to those eligible applicants who are not currently funded through the Buy BC Partnership Program. Agribusinesses that are currently receiving funding are recommended to discuss incorporating e-commerce activities with their program co-ordinator.

New applicants to the Buy BC Partnership Program must meet the following eligibility criteria for the Funding Stream:

  1. Be licensed to do business in B.C. and have a valid B.C. business number;
  2. Have at least two years of business revenues;
  3. Be growing or processing one or more agricultural or food product in B.C.;
  4. Use raw materials from B.C. for processing products when they are available in enough quantities;
  5. Seeking funding for an e-commerce project starting on or after June 8, 2020; and
  6. Not be contracted to receive Buy BC cost-shared funding from IAF this fiscal year.

The application will be streamlined to include both the Buy BC logo licensing application and the Funding Stream application in a single form.

Funding will be available to eligible applicants, so long as their e-commerce project will be implemented between June 8, 2020 and September 30, 2020 and requires support for the following costs:

  1. Costs associated with e-commerce website development to sell an agribusiness’s own made-in-B.C. products;
  2. Fees associated with listing products with existing e-commerce platforms;
  3. Fees associated with on-line payment systems for e-commerce;
  4. Packaging materials for product shipping and related shipping costs, to a maximum of $2,000; and
  5. Costs associated with directly marketing/advertising the availability of the applicant’s products on an e-commerce website or platform, to a maximum of $1,000.

Eligible applicants seeking funding for an e-commerce agribusiness selling third party products, adding non e-commerce web pages to existing websites, hosting an existing website, or credit card processing fees will not be granted funding.

To assist in completing the Funding Stream application form, applicants should gather the following information:

  1. A list of products that qualify as grown or processed in B.C. This is defined by the program as “more than 51% of the direct cost of producing the product is incurred in B,C.”;
  2. Which project activities you would like to complete;
  3. How much funding you are requesting, along with how much your contribution will be; and
  4. The anticipated launch date of your Buy BC e-commerce campaign.